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Did you know that an estimated 2.3 million dental crowns get manufactured in the US each year? That makes crowns the most common dental restoration procedure in the country.
Dental crowns, or “tooth caps,” are popular because they can save teeth from extraction. Instead of removing a diseased tooth, a dentist can get rid of the cavity first or treat it with root canal therapy. After this, the dentist can place a crown to reinforce the weakened teeth.
As helpful as these tooth caps are, they still wear away, just like natural teeth. A dental crown replacement can address the problems associated with an older restoration.
On that note, we came up with this guide listing some of the signs that you need to replace an old tooth cap. Read on to learn all about the visual and tangible symptoms of worn or damaged dental crowns.
Receding Gums Around the Crowned Tooth
Receding gums are a form of periodontal disease. Gum disease, in turn, affects almost half of US adults 30 years and older.
Gum recession occurs when the soft tissues that surround the teeth pull back or “recede.” This exposes more of the tooth, making it look longer than the rest of the teeth. In some cases, the recession can be so severe that even teeth roots get exposed.
An ill-fitting dental crown can contribute to receding gums as it makes it harder to clean the tooth. Food debris can make its way into the gaps left by an improper crown fit. This then hastens decay-causing plaque formation from within the crown.
Over time, all those plaque and bacteria can reach the deeper areas of your crowned tooth. This is one way that an ill-fitting crown can put you at risk of gum recession.
If you’ve noticed a dark, unsightly line at the base of your crowned tooth, take that as a sign of gum recession. A general or cosmetic dentistry office can treat your gums and replace your faulty crown, too.
You’ve Had the Crown for Over Half a Decade
A 2015 study found all-ceramic or porcelain crowns to have a five-year survival rate of over 98%. More than 96% of these restorations also lasted for more than 10 years. By contrast, composite crowns only showed an 83% five-year survival rate.
If you’ve had a composite crown placed more than five years ago, chances are, it may have become “decemented.” This means that the cement used to bond it to the tooth’s surface have worn out. Some areas of the adhesive agent may have also eroded.
If caught early, a cosmetic or family dentist may still be able to reattach the failed crown.
However, you need to get it “re-glued” ASAP, as the weakened underlying tooth may sustain more damage. If this happens, the affected tooth may break or crack, and it won’t fit properly into the crown anymore. In this case, your dentist would likely need to manufacture a replacement crown.
Your Crowned Tooth Feels Sensitive or Painful
Aside from normal wear and tear, crowns can also become loose due to bruxism. Bruxism is a condition characterized by unintentional yet forceful grinding of the teeth. It affects about one in three people in the US.
Bruxism can cause unnecessary friction, force, and stress on the teeth. In crowned teeth, the “extra” pressure can chip or grind away at the “cap” itself or its bonding agent. Since the underlying tooth is already weak, it may feel sensitive or even painful.
In this case, you might want to check out this family dentist to have a look at your bruxism first. The dentist would likely recommend using a bite guard, also known as “night guards” or “bite splints.” They act as a cushion between your teeth, protecting them from the force of teeth grinding.
If the crown is still in good condition, the dentist may only need to reinforce it with a fresh layer of glue. If your bruxism caused excessive wearing on the dental cap, you most likely need to replace it.
Your Bite Feels Off
Most dental crown procedures involve removing some of a tooth’s outermost layer. Dentists file down teeth for crowning to ensure the dental cap doesn’t protrude. The crown then takes the place of the removed section.
If the crown gets detached or becomes loose, it may shift or move from its original position. This can make you feel as if your crowned tooth “sits” higher (or lower) than the rest of your teeth. Gum disease, aged crowns, and bruxism are common culprits behind this issue.
Either way, it’s best you check in with a dentist as soon as your crown makes your bite feel off. Otherwise, it can crack or even break if you accidentally bite down too hard. This can happen as the protruding section of the dental cap takes the brunt of your bite force.
Severe crown damages are often unrepairable and require a replacement.
You’ve Experienced Dental Trauma
Researchers found that 4.5% of the population experiences dental trauma every year. Dental trauma is any injury that affects the mouth, including the teeth and gums. These injuries can be severe enough to crack teeth, so imagine what they can do to dental crowns.
If you hit your mouth hard enough, the blow may have dislodged your dental crown. Worse, it could have sustained damage like chips, cracks, or even broken-off parts. You should see a dentist as soon as you can, as these expose the weak teeth under the crown.
Prompt Dental Crown Replacement Can Save Your Pearly Whites
Gum recession, tooth pain or sensitivity, and a bite that feels off are signs of tooth crown issues. Left untreated, they can ultimately result in the need for a dental crown replacement. You should have your crown replaced as soon as possible; otherwise, you’re at risk of losing the weak teeth.
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